Caregivers bridge a crucial gap between an elder, disabled or home-bound individual and their community. Encompassing all aspects of a person’s life, caregiving includes everything from grocery shopping to doctor’s appointments, bathing to preparing meals and whatever else may fall in between. These duties require time, effort and patience. This can be exceptionally difficult when the caregiver has responsibilities to their own family, friends, profession and social life.
Even with affordable home health care options, most caregivers are family to the loved ones they care for. In fact, nearly 25% of the population cares for an elderly or disabled family member and over ½ have other jobs and responsibilities. This can leave caregivers impatient, run-down and burnt out. Research indicates that caregivers are actually at increased risk for depression and other illnesses, especially if they lack professional resources and/or support from family.
Once signs of stress or burnout are present it’s really no longer a healthy option for anyone involved. Symptoms of stress include irritability, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, feelings of resentment, overreacting to nuisances and exaggerating small scenarios. Signs of burnout are a bit more severe. These include feeling helpless, hopeless, overwhelmed and exhausted. Neglecting your own needs and gaining little satisfaction from caregiving are other signs not to ignore.
Here are some tips to avoiding caregiver stress and burnout:
- Have the humility to ask for help, and accept assistance when people step forward. Delegate tasks; don’t take control of everything.
- Give yourself a break. Make time in your schedule for relaxation or leisurely activities. Taking time for yourself will result in more effective, efficient caregiving.
- Accept caregiving responsibilities as opposed to feeling sad about the situation. Find the silver lining in what it is you’re doing, and realize how it’s making you stronger.
- Don’t neglect your own health. Keep doctor appointments, eat healthily and exercise regularly. Make sure to get enough sleep as it will greatly improve energy, mood and productivity.
If you are the caregiver to an elderly, disabled or home-bound loved one, it’s likely you realize the significance of balancing caregiving duties with your own personal and family life. This balance is crucial to being a patient and nurturing caregiver, but still having the time and energy for your own life. For caregiver support and resources, contact AT Home Care today.